Friday, May 30, 2008

When I am thin enough...

The beginning of this week went fairly well. I was able to get a lot of stuff done. I was feeling very optimistic about things in general. And then, by the end of the week, everything just dissipated. I wasn't productive, I hardly ran, and I caught myself saying, "when I am thin enough." I don't remember what the exact precursor to this thinking was. It was just one of those moments. Here are some things I thought:

When I'm thin enough, I'll be happy.
When I'm thin enough, I'll find true love.
When I'm thin enough, people will love and respect me.
When I'm thin enough, I'll be successful.
When I'm thin enough, I'll run a sub 3 hour marathon.
When I'm thin enough, I'll be able to wear a bathing suit and shorts in public.
When I'm thin enough, life will be better.

The whole thing is that I know these are absolutely not true. I know life doesn't begin at a size, and that if you keep on waiting and waiting, it will pass you by. For a long time, I used to feel like I was just watching life go by, and that I wasn't in it. It was kind of like being in a bubble or trapped behind some two-way mirror. For awhile, I used to feel like I didn't have a future, like I could not imagine myself in it. How depressing does that sound?

This year was the first time in a long while that I didn't feel this way, that I could see some future for myself. It was a big step for me. And then I revert back to thinking "when I'm thin enough." I want to scream at myself for even thinking that--that I should know better. But in the end, I know that doesn't do any good. Rather, I just need to not berate myself and let this go too. It just reminds that even if I am doing better, that I still have a long way to go.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

rEEG and eating disorders

A new study recently was presented about the use of rEEG (referenced-EEG) for the selection of medications in those with refractory eating disorders and comorbid depression. I'm never too keen on the word "refractory," but in this case, it means those who had multiple inpatient or partial hospitalizations and had tried medications without success for their symptoms.

So what is rEEG exactly? rEEG is a new system of image diagnostic testing which uses the standard EEG and quantitative EEG known as QEEG. The patient's report is then compared to a large normative database to assess which classes of medications would be useful for treatment. Essentially, these reports are telling physicians which medications will likely improve brain function.

This study consisted of 8 female patients with both anorexia or bulimia and depression. After the rEEG and establishing which medications(medication classes were antidepressant, stimulant, anticonvulsant, and combinations), psychiatrist followed the patients at 8 weeks, 6 month, and the two year mark. Questionnaires for depression and clinical symptomology were used.

The results showed that there was decreased depression and significant improvement in eating disorder symptoms and weight. Beyond that, after the rEEG medication recommendations, hospitalizations significantly decreased among the patients.

Although this is a very small study, I think it is very interesting. Personally, I'm not a medication fan, but I do think there is a place for them as well as natural methods too. I think when you can decrease the trial and error approach to finding which medication will work for you, the frustration level lessen. Besides, some people (even like me as I roll my eyes here) may be more apt to trying them.

In general, I think personalized medicine is the next wave of medicine. If you think about it, our body and brain chemistries are all different. What may work for one person won't necessarily work for another. While weight restoration and using food as medicine are highly important factors in recovery, medications can be helpful for combating some symptoms. Right now, other than fluoxetine for bulimia, there is no effective medication out there for eating disorders.

I hope there will be larger and longitudinal future studies using this treatment approach. Honestly, I would think the insurance companies would be jumping on this bandwagon as it would reduce health care costs which is something we all know they are about. Sad really.

Poster of study

Monday, May 26, 2008

Parrot Flower

I received this is an e-mail today and thought it so unique. Take a look. It's called the parrot flower for obvious reasons. It's a rare species of impatiens which grows in Thailand, parts of India, and Myanmar. Due to its rarity, it is illegal to export the plant, and caught prosecutors can be jailed in Thailand. This plant is also very difficult to grow as it needs natural pollinators. Here's some more information about the plant. Thailand's Parrot Flower

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Female Athlete Triad

I was reading on a blog last night about the change in definitions of the Female Athlete Triad. I think it is interesting (and good) that the changes in definition have occurred, especially since so many professionals are hoping to change the anorexia and bulimia requirements in the upcoming DSM-V. The commonality is that all these professionals want a more broadened criteria as they have realized the majority of people fall into the ED-NOS category. For example, the criteria of amenorrhea for anorexia is one that may be revised. A recent study asking whether there was clinical significance of amenorrhea for diagnosis of anorexia concluded that it was not a measure of severity. The abstract can be read here. Some may say this is just a semantic/labeling issue (true to an extent), however, in this day and age, it is sometimes the only way to obtain sufficient treatment. And even then, it is sometimes not enough.

It looks like the updated 2007 Female Athlete Triad has begun this change. When the Female Athlete Triad was first coined in the early 1990s, the criteria for an athlete was eating disorder at the top of the triangle, followed by amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. If an athlete had an eating disorder, then there would be investigation into the other two criteria as it was perceived everything was related. Now, however, the terms are energy availability, menstrual function, and bone mineral density. In this issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine takes its official position.

Personally, I think this was a good move. Although it means that there are more people who fall under these guidelines, it also means that there could be better recognition of the problem. Thus, hopefully, early intervention and treatment can be obtained.

Ice chewing

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image: adl2

You know, sometimes magazines publish really dumb stuff. Today, I skimmed through a Health magazine. I'm not a religious reader of it but do find there are usually some interesting articles or facts. Though the magazine always has weight loss tips and such, that's not the reason why I read it. Anyway, I was a bit appalled however, that they featured a short article about ice chewing as a way to burn more calories. The article then mentions, however, that your teeth could be damaged. This is definitely a true statement. Then it emphasized how there were now chewable ice pellets that are supposed to be more gentle on your teeth.

Hmmm, and this is all a good thing? I can just imagine someone reading that article and thinking how this could be helpful with weight loss Actually, come to think of it, I did know someone who did this in high school.

Me, personally, I've never been one to chew ice for weight loss. I have, however, been an ice chewer for a long time. It's not as bad as it once was, but periods were definitely higher when I was anemic. I can also vouch that it damages your teeth. I remember one dentist saying my tooth had a hole the size of a crater. Ok, a little exaggeration there, but it was quite large.

If any of you do have ice chewing problems, I hope you get yourself checked medically. Pica comes to mind. .

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

BlogHer nominations

I just thought this was cool and wanted to pass it along.

Do you have a favorite blogger, someone who has impacted your life? You can nominate her/him at Blogher Nominations close on May 31.

Bizarre encounter 2 for today

On my runs, I frequent many dogs. Some days are better than other, but I always call a day when I haven't actually gotten bitten again by a dog a good day. :-) I got a late start for my run today. About two miles into my run, this dog comes from out of nowhere and then proceeds to leap on me. This was joyful leap, not a "I'm going to eat you" type of leap. It was a young dog, still a puppy actually. Bu the bizarre thing was how much he looked like my dad's dog who was found wondering by the kennel and almost getting run over until my co-worker saved him.

I happened to have my phone on me today since I was waiting for a phone call, so I took a quick snap shot of
him. This was the only one I could get of him standing still.

Now look at this picture of my dad's dog, Leroy. See, the uncanny similarities. These two dogs could have seriously been brothers.

The dog ran with me for awhile until a school bus stopped to let off some children. Although this was not his family, he clearly wanted the attention from them. It worked out and saved me a drive from having to drop him off where I saw him before he followed me. Yes, I've done this on quite a few occasions. The rest of the run was an easy day running in light rain.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bizarre encounter this morning

I woke up about 7 AM this morning and did my usual things. However, after about an hour in a half, I decided I was a little tired and wound up going back to bed. I'm not sure if it was that I couldn't get myself up to go for a run this morning, so sleeping seemed like a better alternative or what. I set my alarm to get up at 10 AM, but was disturbed by a knock at my door. I thought it might be the UPS person. She sometimes knocks and then leaves the package by my door.

Well, it wasn't the UPS lady. It was two old men who were Jehovah's Witnesses and wanted to talk to me. This is not the first time these people have stopped by wanting to distribute their materials. The last time, it was an African-American couple who politely left when I told them I was not interested. They came by another time when I wasn't here and left their propaganda on my door. This man was a little more insistent in talking. I just stood there and nodded my head. I had already told him I was not interested, and he continued to talk anyway. He gave me two of his pamphlets and asked me my name. It was kind of funny, because I had to think for a moment that I was not about t ogive out my real name. So I just said "Lisa." Actually, come to think of it, I should have said something like "Lemonjello," and yes, that is a real name. There is a very funny story that goes along with that name.

I just don't get it. I don't see them stop at my neighbor's houses. Maybe they come at a different time or something. Do I have some kind of sign on my door that says, "here is some non-religious person, so you should come by to see if you can convert her." Maybe I have issues with them, just due to the fact that when I was younger, my mother was not too keen of them either. Whenever they knocked on the door, she'd make up some random excuse that they could not come in, because I was sick. And then before you know it, I'd jump out and appear. I don' think she was too happy when I did that.

I think, in general, however, I am not into anyone pushing any kind of religion on me period. This is a funny story. Once in college, some random guy walked up to me and asked about my hand since it is not normal looking. I politely told him the story of how it was a congenital birth defect and that I have had surgeries on it. Then he promptly told me to come to this place for a religious meeting, and that God would save me and help my hand and all. Yeah, I thought that was really bizarre.

I'm hoping for no other bizarre things today. I need to go get ready for my dental appointment. I never look forward to these things, and hopefully, the hygeniest won't yell at me for not flossing well.


Every year, I seem to learn/do something new in terms of maintenance work. When I moved out into the "country," it was the first time, I really had to do my own maintenance work. Before, there were other people to do that sort of thing. Despite being a tenant where I currently live, I am still in charge of all the mowing and such around this place. As from my previous posts, even if my landlord would do that sort of thing, it would take him forever to get around to it. And quite frankly, I do not have the patience to wait for him.

My first summer here, I actually mowed for the first time ever. That was almost six years ago. Originally, the chores were supposed to be equally divided by my roommate and myself. That never happened, and I wound up doing the majority of everything--maintenance work, taking care of the dogs (five to seven total depending on whether we had extra dogs my roommate just happened to bring over), house cleaning, etc. It drove me insane literally. It never made sense to me how she could do everyone else's maintenance work, and yes, she is a very handy woman, however, she could and would not do anything around here.

Recently, the neighbor where I work asked me if I would mow her lawn and weed eat. The mowing wasn't a big deal since it is on the riding lawnmower. The weed eating, I wasn't sure about but agreed to do it. The nice thing is that it's some extra money a month, and this was my former roommate's job last year. So of course my competitive side rears its head wanting to do a better job than her, after all, she is the one with the skills in this department.

I decided I wanted my own weed eater rather than using the neighbor's. I guess I like using my own tools when it comes to these things. That way if something happens to it, it's my responsibility, and there isn't blame like I broke it. I think I have this inside fear that I'm going to be banned from these type of tools or machinery despite the fact that there really isn't any reason for me to feel this way.

I went to Lowe's and bought a weed eater.
Troy-Bilt TB415CS 4-Cycle Curved Shaft String Trimmer
image: Troybilt

I didn't do as much research as I normally do, so I'm really not sure it is a great weed eater. I just wanted a weed eater that wasn't outrageously priced and one where I didn't have to mix gas and oil. Friday, I was pretty happy with it, but then on Saturday, the shaft bolt fell off. I was thinking this wasn't a good sign. Since I had warranty, I went back to Lowe's on Saturday evening, and they switched me out for a brand new one. I tried the new one out yesterday and think it worked out well.

I wound up weed eating for a little over three hours for the neighbor who is paying me. Oh my, she had some very tall weeds and her yard had pretty much been neglected since last year. When I was done and my arms had stopped shaking, I was utterly exhausted. I never knew weed eating could take that much out of you. Luckily, I only have to do this once or twice a month.

All in all though, it's kind of fun to try out a new tool. I'm not sure what will be next, but I'm hoping gardening is in my future even though I don't seem to have great luck with plants after their rooting stage.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Trying to ride the wave

Today was just a crappy food day. I ate more than I wanted and now feel guilty about it. It was one of those moments when you look in the fridge, can't really decided what you want. Therefore, you pick something, but then that really doesn't satisfy you either, and pick something else, et.c until you reach what you feel is FULL, but really turns out to just make you feel guilty. However, you know there are two ways of dealing with this. Either to try to sit with those feelings and ride out the wave or self abuse yourself with temporary relief of purging in some way or form. Sometimes one sounds better than the other, other times, neither sound good.

Which did I choose today? To ride out the wave. I know logically that each moment I sit with the feelings is another day of taking care of myself, but damn, it doesn't FEEL like it's getting any easier right now. I'm not even sure why I feel there is such a high desire to fall back into this type of pattern. I've been on a pretty good role for five months or so, so why would I want to ruin that? Maybe it's coming off from the high of a marathon and going to a low--like a "what now?" type of thing.

I know today I was little upset in general. Basically, I had called my physical therapist on Monday to let her know I was back from the marathon and to set up a time to see her. I wanted to let her know how the race went (plus she told me she wanted to know about the race before I left) and give her something as a "thank you" token. The receptionist said she was gone that day visiting her parents and would tell her I called. She hadn't called, and normally she calls within the day. I called back today to say I'd be in that vicinity on Monday and ask if she had time to meet. The receptionist said she was busy with a patient, and she'd have her call me. Well, I waited and no phone call. It's possible she never got the messages or was really busy today. So I do know to give her the benefit of the doubt.

I know this is a slight issue in the grand scheme of things, but it was just bothering me today. Another friend whom I've been playing phone tag with called in the evening. I missed the call since I was dremeling my dogs' nails. I would have called her later, but I knew she would be fatigued and go to bed right when she got home from her meeting.

Then I was watching Grey's Anatomy, and Meredith's therapy session was just reminding me how I kind of miss therapy. Or maybe it's just the human connection component I'm missing. Or a place where I can be REAL. :sigh: I'm too tired to think about it all right now.

*Positive for the day: I decided to register as a bone marrow donor. It's actually something I've been wanting and meaning to do for a long time.
Being a part of the minority population, there is a big need for donors. Then I was reading about a girl similar to my age that was in need of finding a donor within five weeks. I'm not completely sure I qualify, but I figured I'd just take that chance to see. Just think how you could save a life if you were a match.

Cold feet continued

In my last post, I wrote about the two guys who e-mailed me about running. I got a response back from one of them. However, he wants to run over the weekend, but at a time that I am at work. So it's probably not doable unless he wants to change his time for running. Curiosity got the best of me, and I actually looked this guy up from the half marathon race results from the Flying Pig. I honestly only wanted to know his age. I was kind of relieved when I found out he was close to my age, just a few years younger. Still, it doesn't change the fact that I know nothing about him.

The other guy has yet to e-mail back, but apparently, I did not type in his address correctly.. It's amazing how forgetting a number or two in an e-mail can go directly to someone else. It reminded me to double check and take closer looks at e-mails when typing.

It's funny, because yesterday while at work, I saw two women running down the road--one even with a stroller. I was so tempted to yell out something like "hey, you want another running buddy" or "runner over here." But of course, my notions of realizing how foolish I would be returned and thus, I just watched them go by.

So for now, it's solo, but that's okay too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hmmm, cold feet?

A few months ago, I joined a local listserv for runners. I had mostly been a lurker until today when I decided to make a post. I always feel weird posting on message boards of any sort. I think I get afraid that no one is going to respond or that maybe everyone is just going to disagree with me, etc. And I know I'd feel awful if I was the one to have caused some kind of flaming war.

Recently, the messages were about forming running groups in the area. There is apparently already one established group, but I am unable to go due to distance and scheduling purposes. So I decided to make a post asking if there were any people in my area who would like to run with me or form a group. Surprisingly, I already received 2 e-mails. Both from men, however. I don't know their ages or anything For all I know they could be old geezers or maybe some young, hot, cute guys. ;-) I only know that one of them ran the half marathon at the Flying Pig.

I e-mailed them both back, however, right after sending that e-mail, I felt a little worried. I tend to second guess myself a lot, so I'm not sure if my reaction stems from that or is a more valid one. Maybe I'd feel differently if these people were women. Granted, women can be harsh critics but at the same time, there is less threat of anything bad happening.

I've done online dating before, and this is like going on a blind date, except that I know nothing about these people. Am I overreacting? Maybe I'm just not ready to run with people yet and should stick to being solo? I'm going to have to sleep on this one.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Crack pots

Although I've seen this story before, I think it is a nice reminder to all of us that we are unique, special people.

Crack Pots

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.
One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.
At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years, this went on daily with the woman only bringing home one and a half pots of water.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.
But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable it could only do half of what it was made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.
"I am shamed of myself , because this crack in my side causes water to leak all the way back to your house."
The old woman smiled, "Did you notice there are flowers on your side of the path and not the other pot's side?"
"That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day, while we walk back, you water them."
"For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."

Monday, May 12, 2008

After thoughts

So now that I've written in detail about the marathon and trip, what I haven't written about are my FEELINGS and reactions to everything. Finishing the marathon is by no doubt an accomplishment. And I am proud of myself for that. However, there is still some nagging voice saying I could have done better, that is really wasn't enough, that I should have pushed more through the fatigue. Whether someone wants to call it an ED voice or my perfectionistic voice, what I know is that I still struggle with this a lot.

After the race, my parents all told me how proud they were of me. My mom and dad were afraid that I was going to either not finish or come across the finish hobbling or something. Instead, I came sprinting due to feeling competitive with another girl. I keep thinking how stupid that sounds. I talked to this girl at the beginning of the race, and she seemed nice. There wasn't a reason for me to feel competitive with her. Other people had passed me, and I didn't seem to care, so why did it bother me when she had caught up to me?

I have to admit throughout the entire trip in St. Louis, I somehow felt like a fraud. Although I did not make an issue of food, other than I was not going to eat pizza, making the excuse I don't eat cheese (it's true I don't but I can actually handle mozzarella cheese), food was still hard for me.
There were instances when I did not want to eat but felt incredibly guilty having people pay for an expensive meal or going out of their way to make me something I liked. Therefore, I ate my meals, looked the part of being and feeling okay, but I know I truly wasn't. Everyone just kept telling me what a healthy eater I was. A. who had just met me kept remarking about that and how shiny my hair was, etc. Heck, I even caught myself saying that as well. Sometimes I wonder if I say it long enough, it will be true. Kind of like the saying, "the ritual makes it happen."

Body wise, I'm not feeling too hot about it. Prior to the race, I knew what my weight was from my Dr.'s appt. I knew running the race would drop it slightly, and I was kind of surprised when I went on a 25 cent scale that my weight was lower than what I expected. Since I didn't think it was that accurate, I checked the scale at the fitness room at the hotel, and it read the same. I should have felt elated, but I don't know, I still felt fat.

Then there was the issue of my future which is always a question mark. Surprisingly, my father did not make a huge deal of my current job, where I live, etc. Usually, he makes it a big point at how much he hates it all. I think the marathon distracted him from a lot of this. However, he did mention quite often how I should go to medical school. Even A. said this--how I looked like a "smart" person and that kind of type. She told me that her father whom I met, was a Dr. and on the board for medical school admissions if I ever applied to Washington University.

A. also said to me how she thought my step-sister, M., and I should come to St. Louis in the summer. A. had said something like M. had not seen me for awhile and missed me. I was surprised by this since M. and I are not that close. M. is six years younger than me, and we've just never really had a close relationship due to both distance and age. Apart from that, we're really different. Maybe I harbor some jealousy towards her now that she is doing well in college. Before, she had basically majored in "boyfriend" and let her grades go. The academia/ studious type was always my role, but I fell off the bandwagon. Therefore, she's taken that place. Even when I talk to my mom about it, and she says I'm doing my own thing, not currently applying for grad school, there is just a weird sense I pick up. Maybe it's me more projecting that feeling. If I talk to my dad about this, he'll just say how M. is applying for grad school, and ask why I'm not or that I should too, etc. Unfortunately, he knows me well enough to play that competitive card with me. And M's dad, my mom's husband, doesn't really say much other than M. is doing well in college and plans to graduate next fall.

So those were my major feelings on the trip. Being back, there is always a time of readjustment for me. I find being around people for several days, though rewarding, also takes a lot out of me too. I'm also battling s little bit of a cold and sore throat, though that seems to be better. I'm guessing that's mostly race related, however.

Now the thoughts I have running through my head are: what marathon am I going to do next, am I going to take any online classes in the fall, am I going to possibly meet with an academic counselor, am I going to go back into therapy with more commitment or with a different therapist? What is it that I really want?

Stay tuned, hopefully, I'll figure out some of these answers.

St. Louis trip

The trip to St. Louis was interesting. I can't remember if I've mentioned this in other posts, but my family is kind of odd in that everyone gets along. We really are an example of how divorces can be amicable. When my mother had asked me to come to St. Louis, I kind of felt like my father would be left out. He was coming all the way from SC to see me in the race, and then to have to turn around a day later. I don't know, it just didn't seem fair to me. So this was one reason why I invited him on the trip. Plus, I knew he would have a good time.

Even though my father and my mom's husband "bonded" on this trip, they still acted like an old married couple while driving, bickering about which direction was best to take. My father is old school and believes a road map is best, while my mom's husband is into technology and is all about GPS receivers. Well, the directions the GPS gave and the one my father gave to St. Louis were different and mileage was not similar. We wound up taking the GPS directions despite it being longer which my mom's husband had said was shorter. Later on, the GPS directions would be wrong since it didn't take into account all the construction.

We reached St. Louis last Sunday evening. We checked into the hotel which was really nice. It was like a little apartment with a loft above and supplied with everything you needed. My dad and I stayed on the bottom floor while my mom and her husband stayed in the loft. We weren't there for long since we met my mom's husband's oldest son (D.), wife (A.), and his 4 year old daughter for dinner at an Italian restaurant. Everyone was thrilled to meet me finally. There had been a running joke that I really didn't exist since it had been something like 5 or so years since D. and A. had been married, and they'd never met me. Both were very nice people and we all chatted about various things. I took a liking to A. who seemed incredibly personable. D. was very scientific and it was obvious that he liked to talk about himself a lot. Not that it was bad, he had a lot of interesting stuff to say.

By the end of the night, we were pretty beat. I did not sleep well that night, waking up numerous times. The next day we planned a trip to the
Botanical Garden. It was absolutely beautiful there. I loved all the gardens and the Koi fish! I was a lot of fun feeding them and taking photos of their gaping mouths!
Here's a snapshot of some pretty tulips.

If you want to see the rest of the photos from this place, you can go to my photo album here

That afternoon, we did a little shopping at the REI store since there was a sale. We also had to stop at a pharmacy for ear plugs for my mom's husband since my dad was snoring kind of loudly. His snoring and sleep apnea are significantly better (he had his uvula removed last year), but he still has some trouble.

That evening, we met D. and A. at their house for a homemade dinner. My dad insisted we bring something there, so we stopped at Whole Foods and bought a Black Forest Cake. The meal was nice. A., my dad, and I talked a lot. A. said how she wished that me and my step-sister, M. could come to St. Louis sometime during the summer. Although the idea is nice, I still had reservations about it. The rest of the night, we all shared more stories and then headed back to the hotel.

On Tuesday morning, I decided to see how I'd feel doing the bike and the elliptical at the fitness room in the hotel. Surprisingly, it was not that bad. My soreness was going away, slowly but surely. That day, we planned on going to the
zoo. I had been to this zoo over 10 years ago but hadn't been since. It really is quite a nice zoo, and the animals there did seem happy. A. and her daughter met us at the zoo. I'm not quite sure but the topic of me and going to medical school came up. It's not the first time during this trip that it did, it was just the first that was directly asked at me.

Anyway, here's a picture of one of the elephants:

If you want to see more photos from the zoo, you can click here.

In the evening, we went out to a nice restaurant where we met A.'s mother and father. Both were very friendly and asked me lots of questions about the race and my job with the dogs. After 3 or so hours, we left the restaurant and made our way back to the hotel. It took us quite awhile since GPS was wrong this time with all the construction going on. One of the main interstate roads was completely closed coming in all directions. We eventually stopped at a place where we saw a lot of police cars. My mom was so worried they were on a drug or robbery bust. They ended up being friendly and helped direct us back to the hotel. Apparently, we were not the first people to get lost and have used a GPS which kept saying the wrong thing!

The next day, we left and headed back to my place. We stopped for an early dinner, and then we all parted ways. My dad stayed with me and left the next morning. My mom and her husband stayed in a nearby hotel and also left the next day.

Overall, I think everyone had a nice time. It was good to get a chance to spend time with my parents, meet D. and A and see St. Louis again. I had remembered liking the city a lot when I went college shopping and visited Washington University.

Now, I'm back and have to get into my regular routine of things. It has rained practically everyday since I've been back, so the weather has not too great for anything. I did get a chance to mow on the one day it did not rain--Saturday. I'm hoping to get a lot of stuff done this week.

Marathon details

Both my marathon and trip to St. Louis went well overall. My parents arrived in town on Friday evening. We all headed to Cincinnati last Saturday, checked into the hotel, and then headed to the Expo. The Expo was very nice, though there were tons of people. There, I picked up my registration packet, chip time, and all the cool free goodies. I was surprised by the chip time, because it's so small. It goes on your shoelace and tracks your time during the event. The nice thing about it is that it doesn't officially start until you cross the start line. As a premium gift, all the registrants got a nice duffle bag. The only bad part about that is that the material is very "pet hair attractable." After purchasing some Pig memorabilia and running apparel, we took a drive around the majority of the course. It was nice to do, so I got a feel for the hills I'd be running which were not as steep as the ones I train on but longer. If you've never been to Cincinnati, there are some beautiful parts in the city.

We went to dinner a little later than I expected, not eating until around 9:45 PM or so. There were tons of restaurants t o choose from on the Riverfront, but all had long wait lines. We wound up choosing an Asian restaurant which was the closest to what I normally eat. By the time we got out, it was around 11 PM.

With a wake up time of 4:45 AM, this didn't provide for a lot of sleep, but I doubt anyone got much since the race time began at 6:30 AM. We all headed out about 5:15 AM to go to the start line. I saw several people from my hotel also leaving. Along the way, we saw a deer in the middle of downtown Cincinnati! That was quite surprising to say the least. Parking was a bit hectic, but we managed to get there around 6:10 AM or so. I have to admit, I was interested to see what people were wearing as these events do attract interesting garb. I saw a number of runners wear trash bags to keep warm. I couldn't see much from the whole crowds of people but did see some interesting attire on the run, including a lot of pink everywhere, some guy with butt cheeks attached to his rear (I think it was supposed to look like a pig's rear?), and pink ears and tutus.

I said goodbye to my parents and went to find the pace group I intended to run with and waited with them. I made some small talk with a few women while waiting. One thing is that there is such an energy, adrenaline rush at an event like this. Music was blaring through the speakers, everyone talking, stretching, etc. Then there is an announcement that the race is delayed by 15 minutes due to a fire. Officials had to reroute the course and were told that everyone running the marathon was running at least 26.2 miles but no one knew how much further until after the race when the course would be remeasured. (It wound up being an extra 0.2514 mile)

The gun went off at 6:45 AM, and the first corral group started to run. Slowly, the rest of the runners began as we all inched our way to the start line as "Eye of the Tiger" blared over the speakers. There was a huge rush of energy both from so much excitement, being a part of something this big, and knowing you were running for so long. The first mile or two, there was a lot of people running into everyone. I think I must have said "sorry" quite a few times. After that, it began to thin out and runners were finding their pace. I ran with two other women for the first 5 miles and chatted with them. It did make those 5 miles incredibly fast. Upon mile 6 was where the hills began which went for another 2.5 miles. This was the part of the race many were worried about, including me. Surprisingly, I picked up pace on these hills. They felt a lot easier than I expected. Before I knew it, the hill portion was done. I felt absolutely great and my pace was quite good for me.

At the halfway point of 13.1 miles, I was still feeling really good and had a personal record for me for that distance. I was super happy with this, although it did cross my mind that had I done the half marathon, I'd be done now. Still, I continued to run and ran fairly comfortably. I even caught up to one of the women I had chatted with at the start of the race. Everything was great and then I died at about mile 20. It was like everything was completely depleted from me. I had hit the "WALL," the worst fear of many runners. I found myself slowing down and beginning to walk through the fluid stations. Every mile felt incredibly LONG and I kept waiting to see the next mile marker which felt forever. I kept thinking that the mile marker must be close when it was still a ways off. I was seriously fatigued and felt like I was going to pass out. At this point, I did see runners take walk breaks, others stretching, etc. So everyone was feeling it towards the end.

I don't quite remember the last part well as I felt so out of it. I know that somewhere around mile 21, the pace group I started with and left behind had now caught up with me and passed me. It seemed everyone was passing me, but at this point, I just wanted to finish without passing out. Somewhere close to the end, one of the other women I talked to during the first 5 miles, caught up with me. Well, I admit, I had a little surge of competitive feeling and sprinted the last 0.25 mile towards the "swine finish" and edged her out. There was no doubt a feeling of relief of finishing but at the same time I had hoped I for some stellar feeling at the end. I had imagined the moment in "Rocky" when Adrian ran those steps in Philly. That was the feeling I wanted. Instead, I was a little out of it, not remembering it well. After that, there were all these refreshments for the runners, cool freebies, and medallions for all who completed the race. I was still out of it, moving from table to table chucking things into my bag. A volunteer asked if I was okay. I told her I was fine and then grabbed for a banana which did make me feel better.

Finding my parents through the crowd was difficult. I think it was probably at least 20 minutes before they found me. It was estimated over the weekend that there were over 120,000 just in spectators alone! After one of my family members found me, we had to find my dad without my mom freaking out. She tends to get like that. We eventually got everyone together, took some photos, and then headed to parking and the hotel.

We got everything ready and then began the trip to St. Louis. I was no doubt sore and was worried about being more stiff due to the car ride. I elevated my feet, did some reading in the car as well as snoozing too I think. We took a few rest stops as well, so that was helpful.

Overall, the marathon experience was great. The race was really well organized. All the volunteers were helpful and put in a lot of work. I thanked them whenever I got water or gatorade. The crowd, fan, and entertainment support was awesome. I can definitely tell now why this is a favorite marathon among many runners. Although it is listed as the 24th largest marathon, it doesn't feel as huge as it seems. My only regret was that I didn't meet more people.

I truly am glad with my time but just know that I can do better with more training. Knowing that I was on pace with an easy sub 4 hour marathon up until the end of the race, gives me a little more confidence. I think Boston is reachable! That's my new goal. :-)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Marathon done

Just a quick post since I've got to go. I got back into town Wed. evening. The marathon itself went great. I'm satisfied with my time but definitely know I can do better. I finished in the top third out of almost 4,800 finishers overall. I'll have more details later about the race, my trip to St. Louis, and all my thoughts in between.

Oh yes, and I can affirmatively say that I did not end up like those people in the video I posted about after the marathon. Surprisingly, by yesterday, all my soreness was gone. Walking a lot at the St. Louis Botanical Gardens and the Zoo helped a lot. I'm hoping to post pictures of both those places soon.

Here's a quick picture of how well my hair bands held up during the race. :-)

Friday, May 2, 2008

This is it

This is it! The time has come for the marathon. I really am super excited and am trying to keep all positive thoughts. I think the biggest challenge for me is just mentally. But I know no matter what, I have way too much heart and pride to not finish. It'll be a finish whether it's good or bad.

Today, I took my dad driving around the roads I run, so he could give me a comparison of the hills in the marathon to the hills I normally run. Basically, the hills I have around here are very intense, steep hills, but the ones on the course are not as steep but longer. I'm hoping to get a chance to drive part of the course tomorrow.

I've gotten most of the stuff I needed to get done except for packing. I do have some time tomorrow morning before we all leave for the race. I just hope I don't forget anything.

So for now, this will be my last official post until I get back. To anyone who's reading, wish me luck. This is a big event for me. If you are in the Cincinnati area and want to join all the "squealers" out there, feel free to do so. You can cheer me on as well. Out of 5,300 or so participants, it'll probably be difficult, but I'll tell you I have very long, dark brown (black) straight hair and am short. Maybe when I get back, I'll even post some pictures.

The day after the Marathon

This is a funny video. I really hope this is not me after the race. I'll be posting one more time before I head out tomorrow.